A View From the North Shore

A View From the North Shore

The biggest surprise to me is being alive and well on my 80th birthday. Never did I dream of such good luck. Saying goodbye to my parents and 3 older bothers left me convinced that I would depart at a much younger age after suffering from some very tragic health problems. What kind of luck did I have, you ask? Being the youngest kid in the family left me with all those child hood illnesses that fortunately got them out of the way in my life, leaving me immune as they departed. Some examples are mumps, chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever, kidney problems, flu and a broken leg. Then at nine years of age, someone pulled me unconscious from the Welland Canal, laid me down on my face and practised his version of artificial respiration that succeeded. I choked and gasped and slowly opened my eyes to an array of long legs in shoes that surrounded me. I survived that Sunday morning when my brother and I were supposed to be in church. When I squished my way back into our house I lied when I said that the kid down the street squirted me with the lawn-hose. Since we had visiting relatives I got away with the fib and breathed a sigh of relief in avoiding a sermon from my mother. For example, when my brother and I would walk to church my mother would say good bye to us after telling us for the one hundredth time to stay away from the canal because that’s where her young nephew drowned. To avoid a future motherly sermon, I quietly asked my oldest brother if he would teach me how to swim. And he did so with gusto---in the canal. Amen.

To stay in high school I had to work during the summers to meet the costs of books and clothing and I was lucky to be hired by International Nickel, a company that paid well and that gave me a job because my father worked there before he was down with Lou Gehrig’s disease. While working at a job site on the midnight shift an accident occurred that hit me with chlorine gas that sent me home to bed with the feeling that I was on my way to another life. On my third day in bed a strange man with a stethoscope listened to my pulse and then told me to get back to work because I was OK. Chlorine gas was used by the Germans in World War One to kill the enemy. It took a year to be OK again but at least I survived and could remain in school.

At another Inco job the next summer I was a plant fitter’s helper for one shift and I followed him around carrying his tool kit. He stabbed me in the face with the point of his weapon and left me with a scar on my lip under my nose plus a crack ed seam on my two front teeth. For many reasons I reported it as a simple accident that didn’t involve another person. But I returned there the next summer with an evil plan for revenge. After several weeks at work I asked where the “stabber” was working. “ In the cemetery. He died during the winter from a brain disease.”

In my four years at university I tried to return home each weekend because I was in love with the woman I married. Since I was perpetually broke and without wheels I hitch-hiked home at a time in history when many drivers would give rides to hikers. One very kind lady picked me up and insisted that she would give me a ride to my home town which was about 7 miles away from her destination. There was a right curve in the road but also the road that continued straight ahead. The lady was confused at this very tricky intersection and a car was approaching. I leaned forward from the right front seat looking toward the lady and braced myself against the dash at a time when seatbelts were unknown. A head-on collision occurred and I absorbed most of the shock through my arms and body. The lady lifted from her seat with her head hitting the sun visor and her legs bashing upward against the bottom of the steering wheel. Then her body came down and her chin cracked on the steering wheel. She survived with only cuts and bruises and a bashed car. My good luck continued.

Another time I’ll tell you how my luck continued in Africa, Cuba, Canada, USA etc especially from friendly fire and collateral damage.

Erno Rossi is a bestselling JUNO nominated author. Author of White Death-The Blizzard of '77 book/DVD and Crystal Beach-The Good Old Days, book/DVD. Visit him at whitedeath.com or on You Tube, type in ernoinferno77 and there ride the front seat of the Comet and the old Giant roller coaster at Crystal Beach Amusement Park. His books are available or can be ordered through Coles, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and buffalobooks.com. He now accepts talks for his future speaking schedule. Call him at 905-835-8051, or email him at erossi@cogeco.ca Think gift books for Mother and Fathers’ Day, birthdays, the holiday seasons and other special occasions. Give Erno a call or email to reserve a visit to the Port Colborne lighthouses.

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